Sunday, 08 August 2021 23:00

Onto Another Chapter… Daniel Magadia MSC, Formation Reflection

Onto Another Chapter…  Daniel Magadia MSC, Formation Reflection

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One of the many insights I gained from my formation journey so far has been the importance of reflection, noticing the moments of growth, consolation, and even difficulty. As I dive into another semester of theological studies, I guess it is ideal for me to do that exercise again. Thanks, Peter Malone, for suggesting to type it out.

Might as well start by briefly reflecting on my time in novitiate last year. To use the analogy of a novel, the novitiate was a significant chapter of my journey as an MSC. I consider myself to be extremely privileged to be given that opportunity. The novitiate was a cherished time of entering deeper into the life, spirit, and mission of the congregation. It was also a year of growth and maturity in terms of how I understand myself, my prayer life, and my relationship with Jesus, the beloved son of God (an identity I share with Him).

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Also, how lucky was I to be situated at Douglas Park during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Detachment and isolation were already elements of that year, disregarding the virus. Fast forward to present, I am now professed, and have moved on to another chapter, another stage of this rollercoaster ride that is religious life.

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Returning to Blackburn was coming back to a place that is familiar, but within an unfamiliar context. The Daniel (or Iyel) that once stayed here two years ago was different to the one who returned late January, as mentioned earlier. I may be residing in the same room as the pre-novitiate, but the surroundings, in some ways, are different. I have both old and new housemates. Of course, there is the “new normal” of the post-COVID world. But as Frank Dineen would often label the place, Cuskelly House is still paradise. By the way, it was good to resume to cooking for the community again. And goodness me, some of the Filipino ingredients I left two years ago are still in the pantry. Thankfully most of them are not out of date.

The big addition to post-novitiate life for me is studying Theology again. This is one of the things I was excited for since the finishing my time at Douglas Park. I have heard great things about YTU from confreres who either learned or taught there. Upon the entering the quaint but hallowed grounds of Yarra Theological Union, I was first captured by its tranquillity. It felt like entering a monastery, with its courtyard, which unsurprisingly has a sculpture of St Francis. It was at marvelling at the simplicity and beauty of the place where I was introduced to YTU’s mascots, the adorable guinea pigs. It is an environment conducive for learning.

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As for the people that make YTU, there is a warmth, and sense of community among the lecturers and students. A notable quality is its diversity. I have classmates from across the globe, representing a variety of religious congregations. Last semester I was the lone MSC student; but this semester I am joined by my brother, Trieu Nguyen, who just finished his ELSPM course.

I did three units last semester, covering different fields of Theology. I found the classes fun and engaging, and I learned so much. I considered myself lucky that the last semester was not affected too much by the coronavirus, with all sessions face-to-face. Though I must confess, studying at Master’s level was intimidating, especially with their big assessments. It tested my energy, and my ability to stay organized and disciplined. The moments of insights, stress, and even procrastination, were opportunities for growth. It also tested my religious life, especially regarding prayer. To use another analogy, I was so used to juggling a certain number of clubs. The addition of another item meant returning to re-practicing juggling, and adapting to the new situation. I feel that I am more prepared for this second half of the year.


As for highlights, there are many. Some that are worth mentioning include the many walks through parklands to class, witnessing the final professions and ordinations of schoolmates, cheering at the Brotherhood Cup, and finishing the last 4000-word essay for my lecturer and community leader, Philip Malone (which signified the end of the semester).

Aside from studying, this first half of 2021 was also occupied with pastoral work. One of my commitments this year is teaching Catechesis to children preparing for first reconciliation and communion. One definite fruit from this experience is a greater respect of primary school teachers.

Relating to past pastoral experiences, teaching is a continuation of this ongoing lesson on the importance of simply being. There were moments where I doubted myself.  Am I just wasting the children’s time? That is why I am thankful of my confreres at home, who remind me of that valuable insight of presence before I drive off to Keysborough. Aside from that, being a Catechist has been fulfilling and fun. Looks like my experience in Antioch and youth ministry did come in handy, especially with games.

Another placement was briefly helping Geraldine Lee, and her ministry to people in housing commission, drug addicts, and those suffering from mental illness.  There were moments that were confronting, but likewise it was also fulfilling. She has a drama ministry, which was amusing to take part in.

As I embark on this second half of 2021, I look forward to more memories, challenges, and discoveries, accompanied by the love and support, and the banter and laughter of my brother MSC’s. Bring it on!